Providence Village to Be a Campus of Care

Retired Providence Care CEO was looking for something innovative

Cathy Dunne remembers, seven years ago, looking for something different, something new, something innovative. She wasn’t alone. Her colleagues in acute, chronic, and hospital care as well as her peers with the Catholic Health Sponsors of Ontario (CHSO) were seeing things change in healthcare in Ontario.

Healthcare providers were being pressed to do more with less. In the meantime, care became increasingly complex and difficult to access. People who were, and are, vulnerable were facing a system that demanded a great deal from them in order to find the care they needed.

Imagine a village where the generations mix and mingle in green spaces. Imagine a place where care providers too mix and mingle, connect and co-create, along with residents and visitors.

People who were homeless, people with addictions, people suffering poor mental and physical health, people who were dying, in short, people who were vulnerable and in pain were faced with a complex system of care, one that requires skills, time, energy, and self-advocacy to adequately access.

Providence Village, to Cathy, is a unique response to those realities. Scanning for similar efforts elsewhere, Cathy is aware of care providers who have sought to cut costs by sharing costs and moving into a shared building for example. But she has not seen something as comprehensive, and as differently focussed, as Providence Village.

Providence Village, she says is not about cutting costs. Instead, Providence Village is centred, quite simply, on caring. Nowhere else, as far as Cathy can see, is there a campus envisioned where people who are vulnerable can find, ideally, a home and a variety of caring arts and services in a single, physical place, in a 30-acre village. Providence Village.

Imagine a place where there is supportive housing, a hospice, a long-term care home, smaller agencies offering a variety of supports for mental health and addictions, counselling. Imagine the variety of caring arts are all physically proximate, where you could walk or wheel through the village and find the support you need and to connect with people who are healing and their helpers. Imagine a village where the generations mix and mingle in green spaces. Imagine a place where care providers too mix and mingle, connect and co-create, along with residents and visitors.

That’s what’s different about Providence Village in Cathy’s mind. It is a place that does far, far more than cut costs by sharing back office supports. Providence Village will be a place founded on a legacy of caring and community.

So, when the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul presented their vision for Providence Village, Cathy was called to be involved and accepted an invitation to join the board. Now she serves as CHSO’s designate to the PVI board. As such she serves as a vital link between the village and other like-hearted works.

Providence Village is Well On Its Way

Cathy feels the village is well on its way. Elemental to its founding is the Sisters’ legacy. Also fundamental to success are the commitments and connections with two anchor partners, Hospice Kingston and Providence Manor. Hospice Kingston is well on its way to developing its presence as a member of the village. Providence Manor hopes to have their newly built home in place in 2022.

Cathy Dunne

Cathy is well pleased with how things are developing with these partners. She says working with Hospice, as the first partner, was a wonderful learning catalyst for the board and staff. As a live engagement, the partnership brought to life questions and answers about relationships with and between partners, the sorts of lease agreements that made sense, and a growing sense of shared and cohesive vision of the village to be.

She also says the board is magnificent. She points to Michael Ross’ long history as an architect with the buildings and organizations involved. Larry Norman and Doug Hogeboom have both been senior leaders of large firms. Board chair Brian Hogan is a CPA with a wealth of skills and knowledge. Sisters Sandra Shannon and Frances O’Brien have each worked directly in caring for vulnerable people in hospitals and long-term care and counselling.

With Ruth Gruer at the helm as executive director of Providence Village, Cathy feels the founding team is strong and ready to develop as a group as the village comes to life.

One thing that is close to Cathy’s heart is to see affordable and supportive housing established in Providence Village. The Village hopes to attract a partner willing to invest in affordable and supportive housing on the grounds. This is a dream Cathy hopes to see brought to life.

Cathy feels that the name and notion of Providence Village are circulating and healthy in the Kingston community. That there are two anchors already committed and developing the groundwork with the village is a very solid start. What she hopes for next is the further development of a picture of the future that can be shared with potential care-provider partners and people who would like to access care at the village. With a comprehensive picture to share Cathy looks forward to seeing clear pathways to partnership shared with the community.

The legacy, the wisdom and knowledge, and the space and place themselves all make this gift and ground-breaking possibility a very real one.

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